Express Entry

Express Entry: 2020 Overview

CRS scores drop in December 23 Express Entry draw. A  total of 107, 350 candidates are invited to apply for their permanent residency in 2020, as federal government holds multiple draws in the last quarter of the year and ramps up efforts to meet its immigration targets.


We can all agree 2020 has been an unusual year.

Countries around the world have been faced with exceptional challenges as the pandemic rages on. The tourism industry has been almost non-existent. Borders have been closed and immigration goals have taken a nose dive. 

Even so, Canada was somehow able to reach a historical milestone by issuing 107,350 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) to eligible and qualified Express Entry candidates. The highest number of ITAs ever issued since the launch of the Express Entry program in 2015!

This is no small feat and serves to highlight Canada’s commitment to immigrants and the federal government’s determination to try and stay the course, even when faced with adversity.

The Express Entry System:

The Express Entry System was developed and launched on January 1 2015 by IRCC to manage the influx of applications under three Federal Economic programs:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP);
  2. Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP);
  3. Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Express Entry also includes some of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP).

Draws in 2020:

Canada recorded both its largest and smallest Express Entry draws this year. The smallest draw of 2020 was held a month after the pandemic was announced on April 15 where 118 invitations were issued during the PNP draw.

As the year wrapped up and the promise of a vaccine became real, Canada ramped up its immigration efforts by holding larger draws. In stark contrast to the April draw, Express Entry draws since September saw a steady and consistent increase.

A draw on December 9 2020 resulted in 5,000 ITAs being issued.

The December 23 2020 Express Entry draw again saw Canada sending out 5,000 ITAs to qualified candidates who had a CRS score of at least 468.

With this draw, the total number of invitations issued stands at 107,350 which is a record high for Canada and very impressive given the impact of the pandemic on immigration.  

When an ITA is sent out, it takes approximately six months for applications and paperwork to be finalized and approved. This means, everyone who received an invitation in the last quarter of 2020 will become permanent residents in 2021, which will go a long way towards Canada meeting next year’s immigration target of welcoming 401,000 new permanent residents.

Minimum Scoring Requirements:

The score of 468 required for the December 23 draw is lower than the average Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score typically required for all-program draws.

Since invitations are based primarily on an individual’s CRS score, they are enormously significant in the immigration process. Whenever a draw is held, regardless of the stream or the program, ITAs are always sent to the highest-ranking candidates.

The scoring requirements and cut-off does vary program to program or depending on the current need. For instance, in general, PNP draws require a higher score since an individual can have 600 points added to their score simply by receiving a provincial nomination.

On the flip side, the scoring requirements for CEC are lower since the candidates are not competing in FSWP or PNP draws. The scores for FSTP draws (415 in 2020) are also much lower since only a few invitations are sent out a time and the pool of candidates is much smaller.

2020 saw some of the lowest CRS scores ever.

The cut-off score for CEC on June 25 was 431 and IRCC lowered the cut off score for the December 23 all-program draw to 468. The last time a cut off score was this low was over a year ago in October 2019.

Express Entry 2021:

What are Canada’s immigration targets for 2021?

According to the Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023 released October 2020, the Canadian government is aiming to welcome 108,000 new immigrants through the Express Entry program in 2021.

That target goes up in 2022 to 110,500 and increases yet again in 2023 to 113,750.

Across all programs and streams, the government’s total immigration targets are as follows:

  • Year 2021: 401,000
  • Year 2022: 411,000
  • Year 2023: 421,000

In order to meet these targets, stating January 2021, the government will need to approve immigration for approximately 33,416 individuals a month.

Just the Express Entry program targets alone will require approving close to 9,000 applications a month.

In some ways, the pandemic can be viewed as a silver lining for individuals with dreams of coming to Canada. Given the decline in immigration due to COVID, the federal government is planning to hit the ground running in 2021 with a very aggressive and ambitious immigration plan. For eligible candidates, the timing is as perfect as it can be for immigrating to Canada.


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